How can research improve the lives of livestock, even as they’re on their way to slaughter? In episode 67, Temple Grandin from the Colorado State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences talks with us about her work on promoting improved communications between academic researchers and those in the animal agriculture industry. We discuss her article “Crossing the divide between academic research and practical application of ethology and animal behavior information on commercial livestock and poultry farms,” which she published on June 28, 2019 in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science

Ivory Towers and Abattoirs - Temple Grandin
Ivory Towers and Abattoirs - Temple Grandin
Ivory Towers and Abattoirs - Temple GrandinIvory Towers and Abattoirs - Temple Grandin
@rwatkins says:
Next time, in episode 68 of Parsing Science, we’ll be joined by Royel Johnson with The Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Education Policy Studies. He’ll discuss his systematic literature review of research on the college success of undergraduate youth formerly in foster care, a student population that has historically been underserved in higher education.
@rwatkins says:
Temple’s paper argues that while there’s a shortage of academic positions for new PhDs … graduates in animal behavior subjects can nevertheless make excellent careers outside of academia. So, to close out our conversation, Doug and I asked about the careers which her own students have chosen to pursue.
@rwatkins says:
Temple’s article makes the point that selling new equipment is a much easier task than implementing lasting improvements. So we were interested in hearing about her experience with both designing equipment and in better ensuring that her clients actually use them.
@rwatkins says:
In an article she wrote for Forbes last year, Temple points out that because schools have eliminated courses that teach students skilled trades, more and more specialized equipment is now imported into the United States from countries that have kept that in their curricula. So Doug and I asked her what impacts this phenomenon have had.
@rwatkins says:
We followed up by asking Temple about her thoughts on the viability of vocational education for those students who may not have the interest in – or penchant for – attending college. We’ll hear what she had to say after this short break.
@rwatkins says:
Facilities and equipment which Temple designed are today present in almost all large beef processing plants. And when she first started her career designing cattle handling systems in the 1970s, she’s said that before even drawing out the plans for a new structure, she saw the finished product in her mind. Since that’s not how most plans are typically designed, Doug and I were curious to learn more about her advice for aspiring engineers and those in the industry who hire them.
@rwatkins says:
One of Temple’s most well-known inventions is the center track restrainer – a device she designed for holding livestock during stunning at large animal slaughtering plants – and which bears some resemblance to a “squeeze machine” that she now-famously devised at age 18 to help overcome problems with oversensitivity to touch resulting from her autism. So Ryan and I were curious to learn how she goes about translating ideas such as this between academia and her field.
@rwatkins says:
Broadly speaking, Temple’s article lays out seven elements of basic information that she advocates every student-researcher who plans to work with farm animals should be trained in. Given our interest in multidisciplinary and translational science, Doug and I were interested in learning her perspective on one of these in particular: the importance of communication with producers and scientists in other fields.
@rwatkins says:
Temple’s article asserts that the application of two concepts – ethology and stockmanship – are essential to bridging animal science research and practice. So we began our conversation by asking her to explain these terms and why they’re so important in farms, ranches, and ultimately slaughterhouses, which are also referred to as abattoirs.
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    Hosts / Producers

    Ryan Watkins & Doug Leigh

    How to Cite

    Watkins, R., Leigh, D., & Grandin, T.. (2020). Parsing Science – Ivory Towers and Abattoirs. figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.11816607

    Music

    What’s The Angle? by Shane Ivers

    Photo

    Rain Man’s Rainbow by Steve Jurvetson

    Transcript

    Temple Grandin: The Special Ed Department builds the stuff. And when I was out working in construction – (in the) mid 70s, 80s, and 90s – I’m gonna estimate a quarter of the people that I worked with in welding and in design work were either autistic, dyslexic, or ADHD.

    Ryan Watkins: This is Parsing Science: the unpublished stories behind the world’s most compelling science, as told by the researcher themselves. I’m Ryan Watkins.

    Doug Leigh: And I’m Doug Leigh. Today, in episode 67 of Parsing Science, we’re joined by animal science professor, livestock industry consultant, and autism spokesperson Temple Grandin. She’ll talk with us about her work crossing the divide between academic studies of animal behavior and their practical application in commercial livestock and poultry farms. Here’s Temple Grandin.

    Grandin: Hi, I’m Temple Grandin, and I am professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. I was raised in Boston, Massachusetts. I originally came from a non-ag(riculture) background, and I got involved in the cattle industry because I went out to my aunt’s ranch when I was a teenager. Which brings up the really important thing: that students get interested in things they get exposed to.

    Leigh: Temple’s article asserts that the application of two concepts – ethology and stockmanship – are essential to bridging animal science research and practice. So we began our conversation by asking her to explain these terms and why they’re so important in farms, ranches, and ultimately slaughterhouses, which are also referred to as abattoirs.

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